April 11, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame opened the game with three consecutive hits to grab a 1-0 lead and loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first inning, but Western Michigan freshman RHP Will Nimke got out of the jam without further damage. He found his grove in the late innings and ultimately tossed a complete game as the Broncos slipped past the Irish, 5-4, Wednesday at Frank Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame lost its fifth straight game and dropped to 17-15, while Western Michigan improved to 15-15.
Nimke improved to 2-1 on the season with the top outing of his career. The right-handed hurler scattered eight hits and four runs, of which only three were earned. Nimke struck out a career-best seven and walked two. After allowing a leadoff double in the fifth, he proceeded to retire 15 of the final 17 Irish batters. Notre Dame’s only base runners following the two-bagger reached on an error and walk.
Sophomore RHP Sean Fitzgerald (McLean, Va./McLean H.S.) was charged with the loss and dropped to 2-3 on the campaign. The righty fanned three and allowed one earned run on three hits in 2.2 innings of work, but one of those hits proved to be the difference.
After Notre Dame tied the game for the second straight inning, this time, 4-4, Jared Kujawa took a 1-0 offering from Fitzgerald and snuck it over the right field wall just inside the foul pole for a solo home run – his first of the season.
Nimke did the rest as Western Michigan snapped Notre Dame’s nine-game winning streak at Frank Eck Stadium.
Freshman RF Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie H.S.), senior CF Alex Robinson (Dallas, Texas/First Baptist Academy) and freshman LF Mac Hudgins (Richmond, Va./Douglass Freeman H.S.) all had two hits for the Irish. Bull went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored. Robinson went 2-for-4 with a couple singles and Hudgins went 2-for-4 with an RBI single, triple and run scored.
Notre Dame clearly had Nimke on the ropes in the first inning, but let him get off the hook. With the bases loaded and no outs, he picked up back-to-back strikeouts of freshman DH Blaise Lezynski (Newtown, Pa./Notre Dame H.S.) and Robinson before getting junior 1B Adam Norton (Highland, Ind./Andrean H.S.) to fly out to end the threat.
The Irish pushed their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second. Hudgins ripped a leadoff triple off the right field wall and coasted home on freshman SS Phil Mosey’s (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) RBI ground out.
Freshman starting RHP Kyle Rubbinaccio (Manalpan, N.J./Manalpan H.S.) cruised through the first couple of innings. He allowed a single and collected three strikeouts, but ran into trouble the second time through the Western Michigan batting order.
After his fourth strikeout to open the third, Rubbinaccio issued a four-pitch walk and yielded back-to-back hits, including an RBI double from Kujawa that cut the Irish lead to 2-1. Ryan McMillin followed with an RBI ground out that tied the game, 2-2.
Rubbinaccio induced a ground ball that probably would have ended the inning, but an awful hop that caromed off the chest of sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North H.S.) at third base resulted in an RBI single that gave the Broncos a 3-2 lead.
Notre Dame tied the game, 3-3, on an RBI single from Hudgins in the bottom of the fourth.
Western Michigan regained a one-run lead, 4-3, in the top of the fifth inning only for the Irish to draw even, 4-4, in the home half of the inning.
Notre Dame opens a BIG EAST series at 5:35 p.m. ET Friday at Frank Eck Stadium against Cincinnati. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, and fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at UND.com.
— ND —